Staunton, July 16 – Officials in the UK, Canada and the US say they have determined that Russian hackers have tried to break into the websites and electronic communications of companies in the West which are seeking to develop a coronavirus vaccine. Moscow has denied all such reports (charter97.org/ru/news/2020/7/16/386085/).
Russia continued to work toward the development of its own vaccine as the numbers of coronavirus cases and deaths continued to rise. Over the last 24 hours, the authorities registered 6428 new cases of infections, bringing the total to 752,797, and the number of deaths from the infection rose by 167 to 11,937 (t.me/COVID2019_official/1055).
More complaints about and explanations for official understatement of the numbers also continue to come in. The SerpomPo telegram channel says official numbers are so internally inconsistent that they can’t be true (t.me/SerpomPo/6526), and regional officials sometimes are understating the figures to make themselves look good or complaining that Moscow is doing so in order not to give regions money (tayga.info/157170 and babr24.com/kras/?IDE=202864).
And one Russian observer came up with an explanation for Russia’s low death rates: Many people in other countries with underlying conditions have died from the coronavirus while in Russia those conditions had already killed them off, reducing the number the virus could kill (svobodaradio.livejournal.com/4490534.html).
With regard to air links between Russia and other countries, the foreign ministry said it had evacuated 4,000 more Russians from abroad this week bringing that total to 55,000 (regnum.ru/news/3012292.html). Russians returning to their own country have new forms to fill out (rospotrebnadzor.ru/about/info/news/news_details.php?ELEMENT_ID=14938). And while more foreigners can enter, many restrictions still remain (themoscowtimes.com/2020/07/16/can-i-travel-to-russia-now-that-quarantine-is-over-a70884).
And in an indication of just how complicated closing down and then reopening any society is, Russian activists are now pressing the Moscow authorities to allow family and friends to again visit orphanages, one of the many kinds of facilities access to which was restricted earlier this spring (kommersant.ru/doc/4417393?from=main_2).
Some places are being forced to close back down. One of them is Khabarovsk Kray, although the closing there may be about shutting down the demonstrations rather than restricting the coronavirus (ria.ru/20200716/1574429613.html). Many places which have reopened most things are finding that people now ignore all restrictions (kp.ru/daily/27156/4254372/ and svobodaradio.livejournal.com/4490904.html).
One high-profile place that was closed only recently has now been partially reopened, albeit with requirements about proving non-exposure to the coronavirus – the Solovetsky monastery complex in the Russian North (credo.press/232056/).
As the pandemic has slowed or stopped economic activity, tax collections have fallen and now more than a third of all Russian regions are running significant deficits, up from about a quarter only three months ago (forbes.ru/finansy-i-investicii/405167-v-byudzhetah-rossiyskih-regionov-obrazovalas-dyra-v-147-mlrd-rubley).
Every third Russian construction company now faces bankruptcy, with falling orders, falling unemployment and falling wages hitting far more (krizis-kopilka.ru/archives/78242krizis-kopilka.ru/archives/78246).
Meanwhile, in other pandemic-related developments in Russia,
· Members of some non-Russian groups believe that their diets, high in cabbage, kimchi and kefit are giving them greater immunity to the coronavirus (nazaccent.ru/content/33630-5-nacionalnyh-blyud-protiv-koronavirusa.html).
· The interior ministry reports that the number of people seeking to enter Russia illegally has increased since the start of the pandemic, with gangs in foreign countries, including Belarus, offering for a price to lead people up to the border at places where there are no guards (materik.ru/rubric/detail.php?ID=105628).